World News

Photo of bat with ‘human-size’ wingspan TERRIFIES viewers – but may not be what it seems

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The picture of the enormous bat was posted on Twitter and has gathered more than 250,000 likes. The image shows the winged animal hanging upside down from the roof of a building.

The caption said: “Remember when I told y’all about the Philippines having human-sized bats? Yeah, this was what I was talking about.”

The post prompted a string of replies from horrified Twitter users.

One replied: “IS THIS REAL!????”

Another wrote: “You’re telling me this bat is taller than me.”


Another commented: “HELL NO.”

A fifth added: “This bat is taller than me and I’m both horrified and impressed in equal measure.”

But others pointed out the photo is likely to be making the bat look bigger than it actually is.

One said: “It looks larger than it really is because there isn’t anything directly next to it for scale.”

And another insisted the bat was harmless, saying: “Heya, from the Philippines here.

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“I can confirm this, they have a huuuuuge wingspan but the bodies are not really that big, more or less like the same body as a medium (bit smaller) sized dog.

“And yeah they only eat fruits, guavas most particularly. They’re really gentle too.”

The picture of the bat was posted by Twitter user @AlexJoestar622 who clarified in a later tweet that he was referring to the bat’s wingspan and not its height when he said it was the size of a human.

The bat is thought to be a giant golden-crowned flying fox.

The species, which is native to the Philippines, is one of the largest in the world.

It has an impressive wingspan of up to 1.7m (5.6ft) and can weigh 1.4kg (3.1lb).

The diet of the giant golden-crowned flying fox is mainly fruit.

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U.S. says Alaska, Delta, JetBlue, United, Southwest seek COVID aid

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Five additional U.S. airlines – Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines – have taken steps to seek federal loans amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, the U.S. Department of Treasury said on Tuesday.

The airlines had signed letters of intent, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement, adding: “We look forward to working with the airlines to finalize agreements and provide the airlines the ability to access these loans if they so choose.”

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World News

SNP sparks fury: Nicola Sturgeon accused of putting jobs at risk by ‘very angry’ employers

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Although the UK Government has published a list of countries that will not require a quarantine when travellers return, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has yet to decide for Scotland. Scottish airports are calling on the SNP leader to reveal coronavirus air bridge countries soon or she will potentially put more jobs in the Scottish airline industry at risk. Good Morning Britain ( GMB) correspondent Juliet Dunlop reported on the “quarantine quarrel” to ITV, adding that despite Ms Sturgeon’s threat to draw up a separate quarantine regime for Scotland, not a single spot check had been carried out on travellers obliged to stay at home under existing rules.

Scottish Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, claimed no checks had been carried out because her officials didn’t have access to a passenger information database.

The Home Office has now shot back, saying that this is simply not the case and that it is misleading and inaccurate.

Ms Dunlop told GMB: “Really the upshot of all of this has been that Scottish airports are angry, very angry.

“So angry, in fact, that the bosses of Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh Airports have banded together to say that they are argued that this blanket quarantine policy was always unworkable and unenforceable, and this simply underlines that.”

She continued: “But sadly they claim it has already cost thousands of UK jobs.

“Now Westminster and Holyrood are already at loggerheads over the issue of air bridges.

“Nicola Sturgeon has still not decided which countries Scotland can form air bridges with.

“She’s been accused of dithering, delaying and leaving Scottish holidaymakers in limbo, and putting more jobs potentially at risk.”

The ITV correspondent added: “For her part, she claims the Scottish Government simply needs more data before it can make that announcement.

“Certainly we’ve already had a battle over the border, now this quarantine quarrel is showing no signs of going away.”

The British Government was expected to announce the review into the quarantine system last week, but it has failed to appear.

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Britons are now allowed to go on holiday to 75 countries without needing to quarantine on their return to the UK.

The Government effectively ditched its air bridge plans and simply ended the coronavirus quarantine rules for those arriving from 75 countries so that people can go on holiday.

The UK lifted a ban on non-essential travel to nearly all EU destinations and British territories.

A traffic light system will decide which nations are safe to travel to, with those classed as green or amber available to holidaymakers.

Britons holidaying in “green” or “amber” countries will not have to self-isolate for 14 days when they get back.

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World News

Taiwan warns of countermeasures if new Hong Kong law causes 'damage'

TAIPEI (AFP) – Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen on Tuesday (July 7) warned of “countermeasures” should a sweeping security law China imposed on Hong Kong “damage” the island.

The new law has sent chills through self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing regards as its own territory and has vowed to one day seize, by force if necessary.

Beijing has taken an especially hardline towards Taiwan ever since the 2016 election of Ms Tsai because she regards the island as a de facto sovereign nation and not part of “one China.”

Taiwan’s government has condemned Beijing’s security law, which claims global jurisdiction and demands foreign and Taiwanese political organisations provide information on their Hong Kong-related activities or risk criminal penalty and fine.

“If the implementation of the national security law for Hong Kong were to cause any damage to our country or cause any irrational situation, we would consider counter measures,” Ms Tsai told reporters without elaborating.

She added Taiwan was “closely monitoring the execution of the national security law”.

Since 2016 Beijing has ramped up military, diplomatic and economic pressure on the island.

Nonetheless Ms Tsai won a landslide reelection in January and has remained a staunch critic of Beijing’s clampdown against Hong Kong protesters.

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), Taiwan’s top China policy body, on Tuesday warned Beijing and Hong Kong governments not to “violate the rights” of Taiwanese groups and institutions in the city.

“The Hong Kong side should ensure that our institutions in Hong Kong will not suffer from any political interferences,” it said in a statement.

Taiwan’s government has a trade and cultural office in Hong Kong handling unofficial ties.

But it has been devoid of a chief since mid-2018 as Hong Kong has yet to issue a visa amid worsening ties between Taipei and Beijing, as well as Taiwan’s support for the city’s pro-democracy movement.

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World News

Prince Andrew’s brutally honest assessment of Queen as mother exposed

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Andrew is the Queen’s third child with Prince Philip, and his birth came as a surprise to the public. There is a 10-year age gap between Princess Anne and Andrew, but many saw his birth as a sign that the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh had managed to push past their previous marital problems. As a result he is widely seen as the couples’ favourite — and has even been accused of hiding behind his mother in the past to avoid criticism.

Last year after his car-crash interview with BBC Newsnight on his friendship with deceased, convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, Andrew stepped back from his role on the royal frontline in his attempt to protect ‘the Firm’s’ image.

He faced a flurry of criticism from the public, yet the Queen showed her support for the Duke of York by choosing to step out with him in January for Sunday Mass in Norfolk.

Andrew, too, has shown his dedication to his mother in the past.

According to an interview with Tatler from 2000, “Andrew considers his own childhood perfect”.

He explained: “Particularly at Balmoral in the summer, when we were all there together.

“I remember so many little things, adventures, like riding my tricycle aged four or five at Windsor and turning it over and pulling a great hole in my knee.

“Or my first road-traffic accident in a go-kart when I was 12 — I found myself wedged between two trees.”

Tatler writer Geordie Greig pointed out: “He was certainly the most independent of his siblings at an early age.”

Yet, Andrew added: “But don’t think that it was lonely. It was not for one minute.

“There were all sorts of friends. I remember great tea parties at Buckingham Palace in what was then the large schoolroom and is now offices.

“Also, all sorts of expeditions to museums, taxis to the shops, and going on the Tube.

“My parents made huge efforts to make sure they were with us a lot.

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“That meant a huge sacrifice for them.

“I remember my mother would look after Edward and me in the evenings in the palace, alone, quite happily.

“It was a proper family.”

However, he added that he is not into “PDA”, [public display of affection] with his family as when he was growing up it was “frowned upon”.

Andrew explained: “Remember, it is difficult if you are wearing an Ascot hat or uniform and are on parade.

“It is then that you whisper, ‘How, how about later?’

“And once you come off parade, you give them a jolly good hug.”

Charles, on the other hand, has been disparaging of his mother’s efforts to raise him in the past.

A source told The Sun last year: “The relationship between the Queen and Prince Charles has always been complicated, even as a bond between a mother and her eldest son, let alone as a complex entanglement of expectations and shared history between a monarch and her heir.

“In private, Charles has often accused his mother of being cold, distant or unavailable.”

Charles even confessed himself in a 1994 authorised biography written by Jonathan Dimbleby that he thought his parents were “emotionally reserved” during his childhood.

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World News

Britain now compliant with Saudi Arabia arms order, can issue export licenses: minister

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain has complied with a court order over its decisions on granting export licences to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, its trade minister said on Tuesday, meaning it can once again issue new licences to export arms to the kingdom.

The Court of Appeal last year ruled that Britain broke the law by allowing arms sales to Saudi Arabia that might have been deployed in the war in Yemen.

The court concluded that Britain’s government had erred in law in its decision-making processes on arms export licences to Saudi Arabia, after activists said there was evidence the weapons had been used in violation of human rights statutes.

While the court’s decision did not mean Britain had to halt arms exports to Saudi Arabia, it did mean it had to pause the granting of new export licenses to sell arms to the kingdom – Britain’s biggest weapons purchaser.

Trade minister Liz Truss said the government had “now re-taken the decisions that were the subject of judicial review on the correct legal basis, as required”.

“It follows that the undertaking (given) to the Court – that we would not grant any new licences for the export of arms or military equipment to Saudi Arabia for possible use in Yemen – falls away,” she said in a written statement.

The legal action against the British government was brought by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, which wants to end the global arms trade and argued that British weapons were likely to have been used in Yemen in violation of human rights law.

Truss said the review found that Saudi Arabia had “genuine intent and the capacity to comply with IHL (International Humanitarian Law)”

“On that basis, I have assessed that there is not a clear risk that the export of arms and military equipment to Saudi Arabia might be used in the commission of a serious violation of IHL,” she said.

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UPDATE 2-Italian yields hover at 3-month lows as traders eye talks in Brussels

* Euro zone periphery govt bond yields (Adds news on euro zone recovery)

By Olga Cotaga and Yoruk Bahceli

LONDON, July 7 (Reuters) – Italian 10-year government bond yields clung to recent three-month lows on Tuesday as traders awaited signs of progress from talks this week in Brussels on a European recovery fund.

On Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will travel to Brussels to discuss the fund, which investors in Italian bonds hope will be given as grants rather than loans, helping an economic recovery in southern European countries and easing worries they could be saddled with more debt.

“We currently have some thoughts and hopes that there could be a breakthrough concerning the recovery fund,” said Daniel Lenz, rates strategist at DZ Bank.

Some European countries have raised concerns about the 750 billion euro fund being offered as grants rather than loans. The European Commission is expected to release an updated proposal on the fund soon.

Italian 10-year BTP yields were last flat at 1.31% , not far from 1.25%, the three-month low they last fell to on Friday.

German 10-year Bund yields were also trading neutral at -0.42%, having touched earlier a six-day low of -0.457%.

Yields remained unchanged after the European Commission said the euro zone economy would drop deeper into recession this year and rebound less steeply in 2021 than previously thought.

Greek 10-year government bonds fell to $1.129, their lowest since Feb. 26. Analysts said a euro zone agreement on new debt relief measures for Greece worth about 750 million euros ($840 million) helped the broader sentiment, but probably did not cause the fall.

Rainer Guntermann, rates strategist at Commerzbank, underlined the difficulty of interpreting day-to-day moves on Greek debt, given the uncertainty around how much the European Central Bank is buying on the day and the illiquidity of Greece’s debt market.

“I don’t think there was surprise in these measures,” he said of the debt relief announcement.

The Greek bond market is seen as illiquid by most analysts., given that a combination of low bond volumes and a low credit rating keeps most institutional investors away.

Austria sold 920 million euros in 10-year bonds and 460 million euros in 50-year bonds issues in the primary market.

Germany raised 585.4 million euros via a 10-year inflation-linked bond.

France hired a syndicate of banks for the sale of a 15-year inflation-linked bond, according to a lead manager notice seen by Reuters. The deal will be launched “in the near future, subject to market conditions”, a phrase usually used a day before a sale.

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World News

Evening Update: Today's headlines from The Straits Times on July 7

Good evening! Catch up on some of the main headlines on Tuesday, July 7.

Every working Singaporean needs to be on ‘moving escalator’ of better skills and income: Tharman

Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said the first order of business in the coronavirus pandemic is to stop unemployment from spiralling upwards.


Coronavirus: More people getting infected at workplaces following phase 2 reopening

Workplace infections have risen from 22 per cent before phase two, to 36 per cent now.


No second wave of Covid-19 infections yet, but risk is there as shown in Tampines cases: Gan Kim Yong

Mr Gan said he was concerned that the Tampines cluster could be a major outbreak for Singapore, and the Covid-19 task force decided to test everyone in the section of the building.


Police investigating netizen who claims to have flagged WP’s Raeesah Khan’s social media posts

The netizen is being investigated for the alleged offences of harassment and posting comments on social media with deliberate intent to wound religious or racial feelings.


Ex-principal and tutors found guilty of helping students cheat during O-level exams

Principal of the now-defunct Zeus Education Centre Poh Yuan Nie and two tutors – her niece Fiona Poh Min and Feng Riwen – were each found guilty of 27 counts of cheating.


157 new Covid-19 cases in Singapore, including 20 in the community, 3 imported

The 20 community cases comprise 12 Singaporeans or permanent residents, and eight work pass holders, said the Ministry of Health.


Marks made by self-inking pens on ballot papers will not become invisible, says Elections Department

ELD said that it was aware of false information being circulated in messages and online posts.


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US to withdraw visas for foreign students whose classes move online

It was not immediately clear how many student visa holders would be affected by the move, but foreign students are a key source of revenue for many US universities as they often pay full tuition.


High Court dismisses father’s bid to stop young son from moving back to Britain with his mother

Before moving to Singapore with their young son, a British couple signed a letter stating that if their relationship soured, the mother would return to Britain with the child.


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Wall Street headed lower after five-day run on fears over virus surge

(Reuters) – Wall Street’s main indexes looked set to open lower on Tuesday following the benchmark S&P 500’s longest streak of gains this year as investors weighed the risks to the economy from tens of thousands of new coronavirus cases nationwide.

Florida’s greater Miami area became the latest U.S. coronavirus hot spot to roll back its reopening while Texas registered an all-time high in the number of people hospitalized at any one moment with COVID-19 for the eight straight day.

Energy stocks including Occidental Petroleum Corp (OXY.N) and Concho Resources (CXO.N) dropped about 2% on worries over fuel demand. [O/R]

It looks like it will be a slight retracement of Monday and Thursday’s impressive gains, said Ryan Giannotto, director of research at GraniteShares ETFs in New York.

U.S. stocks have climbed despite an alarming rise in coronavirus cases as a surprise expansion in the U.S. service sector and a record job additions in June are among the slate of upbeat data recently that have bolstered views that an economic recovery is underway.

The benchmark S&P 500 .SPX and Nasdaq wrapped up five straight sessions of gains on Monday, with the latter closing at a record level.

The conundrum of growing cases and rising stock prices indicates that the liquidity from monetary stimulus is overriding fears over the immediate impact of coronavirus on the economy, Giannotto said.

At 8:10 a.m. ET, Dow e-minis 1YMcv1 were down 205 points, or 0.78%. S&P 500 e-minis EScv1 were down 20.5 points, or 0.65% and Nasdaq 100 e-minis NQcv1 were down 33 points, or 0.31%.

Novavax Inc (NVAX.O) jumped 33.8% as the U.S. government awarded $1.6 billion to the drugmaker to cover testing, commercialization and manufacturing of a potential coronavirus vaccine in the United States.

Travel-related stocks, which were among the hardest hit during lockdowns, fell. United Airlines Holdings Inc (UAL.O) and American Airlines Group Inc (AAL.O) were down 2.6% and 2.3%, respectively.

Royal Caribbean Group (RCL.N) and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd (NCLH.N) also dropped about 1% each, even as they announced a joint task force to help develop safety standards for restarting their businesses.

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World News

Actor Johnny Depp's libel trial against The Sun opens in London

The star of the Pirates of the Caribbean begins legal action over a newspaper article that called him a ‘wife beater’.

Hollywood star Johnny Depp has begun legal action against a British tabloid over allegations he had physically abused his ex-wife, the actress Amber Heard, accusing her of lying.

Depp, the 57-year-old star of the Pirates of the Caribbean films, is suing The Sun’s publisher, News Group Newspapers, and its executive editor, Dan Wootton, for libel over an article Wootton wrote in April 2018 calling him a “wife beater”.

Depp’s lawyer David Sherborne on Tuesday said in a written opening statement to London’s High Court that the libel case involved “well-known actor Johnny Depp” and “allegations that he seriously physically assaulted his former wife, the actress, Amber Heard”.

“Not just once but on at least 14 different occasions it is now said, causing her such serious injuries and being so violent that it led Ms Heard to fear for her very life,” Sherborne said.

He said Heard had first aired the allegations in May 2016 when she obtained a restraining order against Depp at a Los Angeles court when she appeared to have bruises on her face caused in an incident six days earlier.

“There is a substantial body of evidence … which clearly demonstrates that this was a lie manufactured by Ms Heard and her friends,” Sherborne said.

Three-week trial

Heard and Depp, who were expected to give evidence, were present in the courtroom.

The case is set to last for three weeks, the judge, Andrew Nicol said.

The couple met on the set of the 2011 film The Rum Diary and married in February 2015. But she filed for divorce after 15 months and days later obtained a restraining order against him.

She has accused him of physical abuse during their relationship, allegations he denies.

Their divorce was finalised in 2017 when the restraining order was dismissed and Depp agreed to pay her a previously announced sum of $7m.

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